How your employer brand plays a key role in supporting employee health and wellbeing
Author: Kim Draper
The average person spends close to 85,000 hours at work in their lifetime, so how can you support employee health and wellbeing in your workplace?
As a newly-trained Mental Health First Aider with MHFA England, I wanted to take some time to acknowledge how you can prioritise employee health and wellbeing in your workplace.
Mental ill health is responsible for 72 million lost working days and costs UK employers £45 billion each year, but it’s not just about the money, it’s about investing in your workforce and providing them with a safe, nurturing, supporting environment.
The past few years have been like nothing else we’ve ever experienced. The global pandemic has affected people in different ways, with many re-evaluating what’s important to them and what they are looking for from an employer.
Throughout this blog, we’ll be sharing some of the things you should be addressing in your company culture to support employee health and wellbeing.
Combat employee stress and burnout
Employee stress and burnout can stem from company culture; if you’re recognising the signs in your employees then it’s time to implement strategies to address this. Here are a few things you can introduce to help:
Set aside time on a regular basis to check in with your team. Ask them how they are feeling, both at work and in their personal life. If they share any worries or concerns, ask them how you as an employer can help and if possible, provide a range of solutions. This not only gives you a better picture of your workforce’s wellbeing but also shows that you are approachable and genuinely care. Just knowing that you have support at work can be a big relief if you’re feeling stressed.
If you’re working remotely, ensure that you don’t just check in via email. In order to recognise the signs and symptoms of stress, burnout or poor mental health, you need to be seeing them on screen and having a proper conversation.
Support employees to connect and take breaks
This is especially important when remote working. It’s all too easy to continue working through the day without taking a proper break to get more work done. However, that’s not healthy and it’s not a good an example of a good work-life balance!
Arranging virtual coffee breaks, team building games and scheduled ‘downtime’ is a great way of getting your team to connect while taking a necessary pause in the day.
Set communication boundaries
This one falls into the company culture bracket. If as a manager you want to log in and send emails at night that’s fine, but you need to be clarifying expectations for your team. If you’re using Microsoft Outlook, there is a function to schedule when the email will be delivered, it’s worth using this to discourage your team from checking their emails and feeling the pressure to reply out of hours.
Encourage staff to take time off
Annual leave is there for a reason, it’s not just because it ticks the legal requirements, it provides well-deserved rest periods to prevent burnout. Your staff perform at their best when they are well-rested.
This also applies to sickness, if staff are unwell and continuing to work, this can increase their chance of burnout, potentially prolong the illness and could spread to other team members causing more absence within the team.
Times have moved on from the old-fashioned and thoughtless ‘suck it up’ attitude, but employees still feel a pressure to reduce their absence and be present, regardless of how they’re feeling. This is where you can make your mark, show that toxic culture is a thing of the past and you want to encourage employees to put their health first.
The importance of work-life balance
Whether you were prepared for it or not, work-life balance has shot up the priorities list and is one of the reasons behind the great resignation. If this isn’t part of your employer branding strategy, then you need to make room for it!
If you don’t currently have a flexible approach to working, then we urge you to reconsider and see if there’s a way you could introduce this. This doesn’t need to be allowing your team to work at any time of day, it could be encouraging a later start or earlier finish to accommodate the school run or introducing a hybrid model to enable staff to work from home a few days a week.
Does your working environment promote health and wellbeing?
Have you considered what impact your work environment has on your team? Simple changes like plants and making the most of natural light can have a positive effect on people. If you’ve taken notes from our blog, you might be wanting to encourage the team to take more breaks. Look around, do you have a dedicated ‘lunch area’, or are people expected to eat at their workstations?
To avoid burnout, employees need regular breaks. Creating an inviting downtime area can help with this and increase social interaction. We’re not expecting you to blow the company budget on fancy chairs but consider how a few small changes can make people feel more at ease and able to relax.
It’s no secret that a high percentage of people are motivated by food and drink, could you set up a snack box? Or install a coffee machine? It seems like a small task, but something as little as making sure the team get their morning coffee or a boost of energy throughout the day can help improve someone’s mood and productivity.
Make it official
If employee health and wellbeing is important to you and part of your company culture, why not make it official?!
Laura O’Driscoll and I recently underwent training to become certified Mental Health First Aiders. This means that we can help to recognise the signs of someone experiencing poor mental health and provide them with first-level support and signpost to professional support.
1 in 6 working-age adults have symptoms associated with poor mental health. Now apply that statistic to your workforce – do you have the right tools in place to support them?
Set an example
If you’re the CEO or Managing Director, think about the last time you really opened up and shared how you were feeling.
Leaders help to shape company culture. If you want your team to be open about their health and wellbeing, then this is something that needs to start with your management team. Don’t turn the workplace into a therapist’s office, but don’t be afraid to share when you’re feeling stressed overwhelmed or you’re struggling with your mental health.
Don’t be afraid to share what you’re doing
If you’ve got a great culture that supports employee health and wellbeing that’s fantastic – but are you highlighting it? Would a candidate pick up on this from your website or social media channels?
Remember, employee voice is held in higher regard than that of the CEO. Don’t forget to ask your staff to share testimonials, take photographs of any events, activities or examples of things you do well and do it all consistently.
On average 2 million posts/articles/videos are shared on LinkedIn each day! If you want to be seen, you can’t just put something out there once and hope for the best. Social media needs to be part of your employer branding strategy if you want to attract top talent.